MADAboutMADA S1 04
Jackson conducted this interview as part of his Bachelor of Architectural Design 3rd year elective, MADAboutMADA. In the elective, students are introduced to digital media and how it can be relevant to the architecture, design and art professions.
00:00 Intro Music
02:05 (J) Welcome to the MADaboutMADA podcast, a podcast by the Monash Art, Design and Architecture faculty. Todays podcast will be a discussion about balancing an architecture students life with their personal life. That includes extra-curricular activities and their work. My name is Jackson and I’m a third year architecture student at Monash and with me today is third year architecture students Lucas and Robbie. Lucas will be discussing today, his studying with his living scenario.
2:34 (L) Hi. So I have had a few different scenarios throughout the years. I remember in first year I was living alone off campus and then second year I lived with a single friend and then currently in third year I am living with two other friends. The main thing you’ve got to think about when you are an architecture student is that, obviously not everyone else is an architecture student and we all have different timetables. In my current living scenario, the main issue is that, what happens is people who aren’t studying architecture have, well it seems like they have a lot more free time and when you try and organise your time based on their situations it can get very problematic. For example, just a few weeks ago they asked me to go out on a saturday night but actually I had my mid-semester critique and you don’t really have time to be doing that and then of course, friends convince you to do things that you can’t or probably shouldn’t be doing.
3:22 (J) Would you say it’s also similar Robbie to when you have a partner, and they’re also wanting to do stuff out of their university time?
3:29 (R) Yeah, in terms of my girlfriend, she stopped going to uni I this semester and is always around and wanting to do stuff I guess. Yeah, it’s hard to prioritise who comes first.
3:42 (J) I would say for me it is pretty similar with my girlfriend. You just get home and all you want to do is hang out with them and stuff, but then you have to knuckle down and try and do university work and try not to get distracted. Which can sometimes take a toll on relationships with partners, but in Lucas’ instance even with your housemates. You don’t want to let them down like “Oh nah I’m gonna stay in” and they think you’re boring or something.
4:04 (L) It’s not even about just being boring it’s kinda just, you feel like you let your friends down, or it can take a mental toll on you as well. I know there have been countless nights where I have been swearing at my computer screen because I don’t want to be here, I just want to be out with my friends having a good time or playing games, whatever it is. But you kind of have to know that, not that this is what architecture school is like, but you have to prioritise your time and know that, ok if I go and procrastinate and have fun with my friends now I’m not going to have time to finish what I need to finish later on. You Have to understand that people doing different degrees have a lot of different hours that they have to do. Just because someone’s university doesn’t have the same schedule you have to prioritise what you have to get done and you bang that out as fast as you can, to a good degree of quality, and then you can enjoy yourself afterwards.
5:00 (R) To further add to what Lucas said, when my mates would constantly ask me to go for a surf and I’d constantly reply saying “I’m too busy, I’ve got uni work to do”. It just comes to a point where your mates stop asking you to come for a surf and that’s when it really takes a toll on you personally.
5:22 (J) Although, would you say that by going for a surf with your friends, would that relieve all of that stress from all of the assignment you have or also allow you time away to regenerate and be more effective with your time when you are studying?
5:37 (R) Definitely, it is a big release, when you get out there on the water you forget about everything negative. Growing up, it was the biggest release for me , just going for a surf with my mates and just relaxing, forgetting that there aren’t assignment due or essays due or anything like that.
5:58 (J) So Robbie, with all that surfing you were doing down in Sorento, how would you compare that sort of lifestyle to be able to get away from university, versus when you moved up to Camberwell at the start of this year to be closer to university?
6:11 (R) It was definitely harder to find that relief that I once had, that one thing you could fall back to. It was very difficult, it was a massive change for me. I’m a coast boy and moving up closer to the city, it’s a little bit chaotic to be honest. Being away from parents is also not too easy either, I relied on my father quite a lot, he owned a building company so I was always looking to him for some insight about architecture, so departing from him I lost that
6:46 (J) You could also say that, just everyday chores that you don’t think about when you are living with your parents, you have out of home and all of a second you have to do your own laundry, or you have to cook for yourself, and all of that sort of stuff. Even just paying bills take up a lot of your time don’t they?
7:02 (R) It’s definitely a reality check, I can tell you that for nothing. Paying your bills and thinking about your housemates, keeping the house clean. Things like that on top of the degree is quite difficult.
7:18 (J) Then you also have to work to pay the rent, and that means that quite often you increase the amount of hours you’ve been doing, because back when you were living at home you might do one or two shifts a week because you don’t have to pay for anything, and then you might have to pick your shifts up when the semesters over. But when you are moving away from home you have to work throughout the semester just to keep on top of your rent. Did you find that that was a big difference as well?
7:45 (R) I feel like that was a big problem for me because that was when I decided to work over going to university and doing assignments. Obviously, that was a big time management thing and I chose money over my career. That stabbed me in the back and I failed a unit, so if I can suggest anything to anyone who wants to take this degree I would say make it your number one priority. Don’t forget about the social life aspect and don’t make it your number one goal to make money during. The idea of this degree is to have a full time job after it so put as much time as you can into it.
8:25 (J) Hindsight’s a pretty wonderful thing. Would you say that you’ve enjoyed your studios a bit more now that you have that hindsight of being able to balance it better and putting more effort into it. By putting in more effort do you find that you are enjoying it more than last year?
8:44 (R) Definitely, I think I’ve found my niche just because I’ve been so involved in the studio and I’m actually loving what I’m doing now. So put some time into the studio and you might find a pretty big interest in it.
8:59 (J) Just bringing it back to living away from home to living with your parents, Lucas what is your insight on that topic?
9:06 (L) Mine is a bit different to Robbie because I come from overseas but I’m originally domestic. So I’m still a domestic kid but I’ve lived away from my parents as soon as I finished highschool, about three years ago now, so the grey hairs are starting to come in. The main things you don’t realise, as Robbie already said, are all the things you take for granted, the cooking and cleaning, it usually takes up the majority of your time. You spend around 3 hours a day cooking and then obviously it all turns out terrible because you can’t cook like your mum or your dad, and then end up ordering some garbage from the store. IF you want to look after yourself it takes up a lot more time than you think, even on the mental side, not just having someone to bounce ideas off of, but someone there to talk to when you need it. It’s a bit different for domestic and international kids. It’s a big generalisation, but when you are an international kid coming from overseas as a domestic or internal student, you usually have your parents funding you and for me I’ve been lucky enough to not have to work for my first two years of university and now I’m only working one shift a week and that takes a lot of the pressure off because you have more time to do whatever you want to do, playing sport or focusing a lot more on university. That’s really been fantastic for me because it allows me to put more into university, like Rob said, the more you put in the more you get out of university. Not just studio-wise, but towards Monash in general. If you are usually on campus and getting involved in events and clubs you can really have a fantastic university experience. I think that can be really difficult to balance if you are working two to three shifts a week as well as studying.
11:00 (J) So we’ve just been talking about balancing your work-life and your student-life, but when you are actually knuckling down and trying to get as much work done as you can in as little time as possible, what do you actually do to be as efficient as possible and how do you overcome the stress of seeing the big picture at the end?
11:19 (L) When you see the massive amount that is architecture, especially for final crits. Trying to do all these drawings at once, I’ve found that the best approach is to separate the task into little bits, things you can do on a day-to-day basis or even hourly and then make sure you are hitting those targets. One of the things you’ll find out when you are deeper into architecture school is that you don’t have time to flesh out everything that you want to, you have to make sure that everything you do is in a hierarchy and everything has importance. You have to do things that are mandatory or fundamental to your project first and then you do things which would be nice to have or that which would compliment the rest of it. Sometimes you’ll go on a tangent or start designing something else and then you’ll end up not having time to do the drawings that you really need for the final presentation. So a really good thing is to plan out “I’m going to spend two hours doing this and this” and then when you hit those two hours you suck it up and deal with it, this is the final product of those two hours and maybe you come back to it later on if you have more time. Keep moving forward otherwise you’ll just get stuck in a pot-hole.
12:53 (J) I’d say there is a similar thing that can occur when you are doing research for a project or for a paper that you’re writing. Sometimes you can get stuck in a hole where you are looking at something too deeply and then you just end up looking into it for two hours and then you realise that two hours have passed. Now it’s 1am and I only have 600 words written out of 2000 and I’ve just been researching about something completely irrelevant. So the same thing can happen when you are designing.
13:41 (J) In terms of how I manage my time with studying, I would say that I am pretty similar to Lucas in terms of the whole making a list thing. It’s pretty satisfying to be able to write everything down on a piece of paper and put a little box next to it and give it a really nice tick when you are finished with it. IT gives you those endorphins to keep going and tick off some more stuff. But it is important to not work until 5am and not get only an hour of sleep. You’ll get up and be really fatigued the next day, do it night after night it’ll accumulate and you’ll get sick, you’re bed ridden for a day and can’t go to the studio. You have to think about future-you and think “Ok, tomorrow I’ll feel really crap if I don’t go to sleep soon”. In hindsight, some people work better at different times of the day. Some people prefer to go to bed at 10 to 11o’clock and get to work at 6am because that’s how they prefer to do it. In my instance I can’t work in the morning, it takes me about 5 hours to wake up once I’m out of bed. I’ll get out of bed and it’ll take about two coffee’s, breakfast and lunch and then I’m ready to go. I can’t think properly before lunch. I find that I work better from 9pm till 2am, maybe that’s just from doing it from the start, I don’t know. It’s about getting into a rhythm I would say. If you don’t have a set timetable, I feel like you aren’t going to get the work done, because you’ll be too sporadic and having a plan is essential.
15:35 (L) I think on that, one of the most important things you can do in life is to know yourself. It could be anything, it could be working till 5am or going out with your friends. As Jackson said, if he knows he can’t wake up at 6am and do two hours of work before studio starts at 9am then he won’t do that, obviously. So, if you know that you have a big event on Saturday and you know that you have a lot of work to do on Sunday, you should do that work in advance, as you know you won’t be able to wake up and be able to do enough work. On the other hand, if you know you have an eight hour shift on Friday and you know you’ll be too tired after work then you need to make sure that you are self-aware and you acknowledge your bad and good habits and you make the best of what you’ve got.
16:32 (J) Another good habit to have is to balance university with outside activities such as sport, similar to what Robbie was talking about surfing, when he was living down in the peninsula. In my instance I had been doing athletics since I was in year nine in highschool, I recently stopped earlier this year because of too many hamstring injuries. I found a really huge difference between being able to go to training four to five times a week, being able to de-stress and get those times where I wasn’t thinking about university. Whereas, this year I’d get home and say “What am I doing tonight? Oh, I have nothing to do, so I’m just going to do my university work.” Because you have so much time on your hands to do your work you just don’t do it. You open your laptop and “Oooh Netflix!” time just gets away from you and by being in bed the whole day you aren’t getting out and getting fresh air, exerting your energy. I feel like it makes quite a big difference having those allocated times for sports versus not. In my instance, the more things I did outside of university such as sports and work, if I have those allocated into times that I can’t change, I use the time in between more effectively. “I have training from four till six. From when I get home, six-thirty onwards I’ll work.” Whereas if I were to get home at four I wouldn’t use my time as effectively. In Lucas’ instance he used to play footy as well.
18:21 (L) I played footy for the first year that I was here at university, training Tuesday and Thursday and then games on Saturday morning. That does eat away at your time, but for me, when you are exercising you get the endorphins going, like what Jackson said, you get a lot more efficient at what you are doing. It does feel like when you are moving your body around you work a lot better. Going into second year I moved away from the area that training was and getting there on public transport would’ve taken way too long, so it wasn’t an option anymore. So I had to try and fill that sports void through going to the gym or going for runs and moving around, it’s definitely not the same. But I’d say you definitely need to at least walk or some sort of physical activity to get the brain going from everyday to the next.
19:25 (J) I would agree with the endorphins point, as soon as I stepped on the athletics track at training, nothing else mattered, you were just totally relaxed and in the zone. It just clears your head and can give you a better perspective on how to tackle the next thing you have to do.
19:41 (J) Another integral part to managing your time during university or especially when doing an architecture degree is to have a really good support network and that can also come through university. Lucas has personal experience with that.
19:55 (L) I joined one of the clubs at university and what they do for you is create a space where you can go outside of class for extra help and you can also just go sit down and talk to other people who are outside of your degree. I feel that one of the biggest things you can do when you are stressing out is to go and talk to other people who are also stressing out because the mutual stress nullifies your own, you don’t think of yourself as being alone and having a rough time. Instead it is everyone coming into this all together and you can go and bounce ideas off of one another or just get something to eat to help destress. As well as that, there are a lot of mentors on campus and if you make those relationships they can help you with jobs later down the line but in regards to support they can point you in the right direction and when it comes to navigating university life. Having someone on campus who can mentor you and make sure you are ok can help when you are pretty stressed.
21:07 (J) So from discussing all of our personal experiences with our architecture degree, we’ve found that it’s really important to ensure that you have a support network, that you take part in extracurricular activities outside of university to help destress, to always know yourself and what your limits are when you are studying, to prioritise what you are doing when you are studying and most importantly to enjoy what you are doing and have fun!
21:37 (J) Thank you for listening to this episode of the MadaboutMADA podcast. If you’d like to hear more, please rate, review and subscribe to the podcast where you’ll be hearing more from MadaboutMADA soon.
21:50 Outro Music